Therefore, remember that formerly you who are Gentiles by birth and called “uncircumcised” by those who call themselves “the circumcision” (that done in the body by the hands of men)— 12 remember that at that time you were separate from Christ, excluded from citizenship in Israel and foreigners to the covenants of the promise, without hope and without God in the world. 13 But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near through the blood of Christ.
14 For he himself is our peace, who has made the two one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility, 15 by abolishing in his flesh the law with its commandments and regulations. His purpose was to create in himself one new man out of the two, thus making peace, 16 and in this one body to reconcile both of them to God through the cross, by which he put to death their hostility. 17 He came and preached peace to you who were far away and peace to those who were near. 18 For through him we both have access to the Father by one Spirit.
19 Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and aliens, but fellow citizens with God’s people and members of God’s household, 20 built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone. 21 In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord. 22 And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit. (Eph. 2:11-22)
After Paul talks about how the gospel changes a person’s life and identity, he then goes on in this passage to show how it can unite different people groups. When this letter was written Jews and Gentiles were sworn, enemies. Jews, according to the Mosaic Law, were not allowed to eat with Gentiles or even enter their homes. Jews thought of themselves as more superior to all other nations. When the church began, this tension made it hard for it to stand strongly united. Jewish Christians thought Gentile Christians should follow the Law, become circumcised and eat only clean foods. Gentile Christians didn’t want to do any of those things, and the Apostle Paul was preaching that they didn’t have to become Jewish in order to follow Christ.
This unity that Paul was proclaiming was shocking. Gentiles are being fully welcomed into the body of Christ. Gentiles were not becoming Jews and Jews were not becoming Gentiles. They both were becoming a brand-new creation. The death of Christ destroyed the animosity between them so that they can become one in Christ. Gentiles now have an identity in Christ as his chosen people. This amazing thing has happened bringing all of creation together.
Christ has united all things in him. Any tensions that exist between people groups have been removed by the blood of Christ. This is not an easy thing to put into practice in our culture or local church. It demands that we set aside our preferences and comfort for the gospel to be displayed. We all have people in our lives that we struggle to love and be hospitable too. It could be a family member, co-worker, or it could be people we hear about in the news. We need to view people in two ways. If they are believers, they are our brother and sister in Christ, so we should love them and encourage them in their faith. If they are not believers, then they are lost sheep in desperate need of Christ, so we should love them and share the gospel with them. Either way, we should be loving all people are uniting all people together in the family of God.